The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership Assessment and Dissertation Handbook

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1 The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership Assessment and Dissertation Handbook Department of Educational Leadership School of Education and Professional Studies Central Connecticut State University October 2003; January 2004 (Revised)

2 Table of Contents Page Introduction 3 Doctoral Program Propositions and Leadership Standards 3 Figure 1: Conceptual Framework 4 Figure 2: Advanced Leadership Standards (ELCC) 5 Assessment Processes Tests and Performance Tasks 6 The Leadership Portfolio 6 Figure 3: Examples of Possible Portfolio Entries 9 Assessment Exercises and Certification Tests 11 The Dissertation 12 Dissertation Responsibilities 15 References 18 Appendices A: Assessment Tasks Aligned to Doctoral Propositions 19 and Leadership Standards B: Program Approval Form 25 C: Rubric for Assessing Leadership Portfolio 27 D: Dissertation Proposal Approval Form 34 E: Dissertation Approval Form 36 2

3 Introduction* In doctoral programs, candidate assessments have most often consisted of evaluation of required course work, independent essays or research papers, and comprehensive examinations. In designing an assessment plan for the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, the faculty sought to break from tradition and provide a broader array of assessment practices, with emphasis on performance assessment. Specifically, an alternative in the form of the Leadership Portfolio has been designed to monitor candidates progress from entry into the program and to replace the traditional comprehensive exam. Further, the assessment processes call for a new approach for designing and disseminating the dissertation. This Handbook serves as a guide for doctoral candidates currently in the program as well as a source of information for individuals who may have interest in applying to the program. It describes important policies and procedures pertaining to assessment and to the doctoral dissertation. Doctoral Program Propositions and Leadership Standards Assessment of candidate performance is driven by two major sources: (1) the program s conceptual framework in the form of seven propositions, and (2) the standards for Advanced Programs in Educational Leadership (2002) that have been adopted by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC), the educational leadership specialty organization that is affiliated with the National Commission for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Figure 1 presents the seven propositions that make up the program s conceptual framework. The Advanced Standards for Educational Leadership are found in Figure 2. Appendix A aligns instructional experiences and assessment tasks in the program to particular propositions and standards, and provides examples of the evidence that is collected to assess candidate performance on each standard. *This is a working document, subject to modification for each entering cohort. The October 2003 revision applies to Cohort 2002 and Cohort

4 Figure 1: Conceptual Framework for the Doctoral Program Proposition One: Effective educational leaders are skillful in creating a sense of a collaborative learning community for all those with whom they work. These leaders are sensitive to their ethical and moral obligation to design and implement programs that promote positive learning for all. Further, these leaders have the organizational and conceptual skills to advance the work of institutions, communities, and organizations. Proposition Two: Effective educational leaders know that teaching and learning is at the heart of everything they do. They are familiar with current curricular, instructional, and assessment practices and know how to help others improve their skills in these areas. They know how to create and sustain a powerful vision of the importance of teaching and learning and have skills in program evaluation and assessment to monitor efforts to improve classroom and organizational growth. Further, they know how to provide the professional development, coaching, and mentoring services that are fundamental to organizational growth and renewal. Proposition Three: Effective educational leaders are able to connect the immediate work of organizational improvement to the larger philosophical and historical contexts that support educational change. They know how to effectively engage others in the change process and to generate and allocate resources for innovation. Proposition Four: Effective educational leaders recognize diversity as a strength and know how to develop systems, programs, and services that are responsive to the needs of learners, faculties, and communities. These leaders work to create a culture of success for all learners and know how to effectively partner with community and national groups and networks to enhance the educational environment for their learners. Further, these leaders are skillful in developing a variety of community avenues to inform others in the wider community. Proposition Five: Effective educational leaders know how to use technology to support and advance the learning environment. These leaders demonstrate skills in using a variety of media for communication purposes as well as effectively using building-wide and system-wide information processing systems. Proposition Six: Effective leaders are committed to the processes of continuous quality improvement and know how to collect, research, analyze, and interpret salient data to inform the change process. These leaders know how to communicate this information to a variety of audiences to help enlist their support for improvement. Proposition Seven: Effective educational leaders value and apply research in determining best practice. These leaders know how to evaluate and bring critical judgment to bear on educational research and they can communicate research to teachers, parents, and members of the community. They have the skills to conduct and provide leadership for action research aimed at improving teaching and learning. 4

5 Figure 2: Advanced Leadership Standards of the Educational Leadership Constituent Council Standard 1.0: Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all the students by facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a school or district vision of learning supported by the school community. Standard 2.0: Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by promoting a positive school culture, providing an effective instructional program, applying best practice to student learning, and designing comprehensive professional growth plans for staff. Standard 3.0: Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by managing the organization, operations, and resources in a way that promotes a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. Standard 4.0: Candidates who complete the program are education leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by collaborating with families and other community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources. Standard 5.0: Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner. Standard 6.0: Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context. Standard 7.0: The internship provides significant opportunities for candidates to synthesize and apply the knowledge and practice, and develop the skills identified in Standards 1-6 through substantial, sustained, standards-based work in real settings, planned and guided cooperatively by the institution and school district personnel for graduate credit. 5

6 Assessment Processes for the Ed.D. Performance assessment of candidates will be accomplished through four major processes: (1) Tests and performance tasks employed in particular courses and seminars; (2) The Leadership Portfolio; (3) Assessment Exercises and Licensure Tests required by the State of Connecticut for candidates who are applying for the principal s or superintendent s certificate; and (4) The Dissertation including its dissemination. The requirements and procedures for each of these processes are described in the following sections. Tests and Performance Tasks Each course, seminar, and field experience or internship will have some type of performance assessment. In some instances, these assessments will be more traditional tests, in others they may be in the form of projects or performance tasks. These assessments will determine candidates grades for particular courses and will also be used as exhibits for the Leadership Portfolio. Appendix A provides examples of tests and performance assessments connected to each course and seminar in the program. A high level of performance is required on each assessment and across grades received for all courses. Prior to submitting The Leadership Portfolio, candidates must complete any courses with incomplete grades. The Leadership Portfolio The Leadership Portfolio is intended to provide an alternative to the comprehensive exam, traditionally used to assess candidates content knowledge and to determine whether or not they are ready to proceed with the dissertation. The rationale often cited for the comprehensive exam is that it ensures that candidates can demonstrate in writing the ability to conceptualize and apply content associated with the field at an advanced, doctoral level. Most often this exam has consisted of questions chosen by the faculty and administered to the candidates over two, three-hour time blocks. The arguments for an alternative assessment rather than the more traditional comprehensive exam are twofold. First, this approach is more broadly based, that is, the portfolio requirements call for showing the integration of ideas and their application in ways not possible on a 6

7 written examination. Second, this approach goes beyond what candidates know by also assessing their capabilities in important areas of leadership. As an assessment instrument, the purpose of the Leadership Portfolio is threefold: (1) to provide evidence of the candidates progress so feedback can be provided in timely fashion; (2) to provide evidence that each candidate meets identified program standards; and (3) to provide faculty with evidence that candidates are ready to proceed with the doctoral dissertation. In addition, the portfolio assessment process provides the faculty with an important source of data about the quality of selection and admission processes, instruction, and program design. Candidates begin the Leadership Portfolio during the first summer of the Program, and it will be used in meetings with the advisor throughout to provide evidence that appropriate progress is being made. During the second year of the program (Spring Semester or Summer Session) each candidate will complete the Leadership Portfolio for the purpose of summative review and evaluation. This final portfolio will consist of evidence (artifacts, evaluations, projects and reflections) gathered from the beginning of the program. Some of the portfolio entries will be products (papers, projects, evaluations) that have resulted from assignments in core courses, inquiry seminars, or specialty electives. Other entries will be artifacts that candidates choose to represent the results of their everyday work or the products associated with their internships. The reflection provided for each entry will tie it to the program s conceptual framework and to the advanced standards in educational leadership. The exhibits candidates choose to place in the portfolio should reflect best work as well as work that demonstrates growth as an educational leader. Examples of unsuccessful work or revised work can also be included with reflections about how the work could be or was changed or improved. Procedures for Portfolio Development. Using a browser-based portfolio CD provided by the program, candidates will submit two artifacts or exhibits for each of the seven propositions that constitute the conceptual framework for the Ed.D. Program. In each pairing of artifacts, one artifact or exhibit should be a product that has resulted from a course assignment and the second artifact or exhibit should be a product that has 7

8 resulted from everyday work in a school as an administrator, teacher-leader, and/or intern. Each portfolio entry should be accompanied by a brief (2 to 3 pages) reflective essay. The reflective essay should describe why the entry best represents the candidate s work related to the proposition and how Connecticut and ELCC leader standards are demonstrated in the work. In addition, the candidate should reflect about what was learned, and explain how the work or activity could be changed or improved in the future. Figure 3 presents examples of possible portfolio entries. Candidates are permitted to use the same entry to support more than one proposition, but are expected to present in support of each proposition at least one exemplar that represents course assignments and one exemplar that represents leadership in action. There is no specific number of artifacts and exhibits required once these minimum requirements are met, but the faculty anticipate that most portfolios will include at least 8-10 items. Candidates should consult with their advisor or the program director about specific concerns related to portfolio development. Procedures for Portfolio Assessment. Candidates will submit the Leadership Portfolio to a portfolio committee consisting of the following three members: (1) the student s dissertation advisor; (2) the Ed.D. program director (or, if the director is serving as the dissertation advisor, the educational leadership department chair); and (3) someone who has been mutually chosen by the advisor and the candidate, either a practitioner from K-12 education who holds the doctorate and/or equivalent experiential credentials or a faculty member from outside the core Ed.D. teaching faculty and the Department of Educational Leadership. At least one member of the committee must be a member of the Educational Leadership Department. Portfolios will be submitted to the student s advisor at least two weeks in advance of a scheduled portfolio presentation meeting and defense. All committee members will attend the presentation and defense, which is anticipated to be about one hour in length. At that time, the candidate will make a minute presentation that is intended to synthesize the salient features of the reflections and the products, integrate the entries into a coherent whole, and establish clearly for the committee what the candidate believes are the salient features of the portfolio as related to the 8

9 Figure 3: Examples of Possible Portfolio Entries Proposition 1: Establish a Collaborative Learning Community School Improvement Project (EDL 702; 713; 714) aimed at enhancing school culture and/or student achievement Results of a project designed to improve the effectiveness of a team that you are part of Report to school board on about efforts to develop a learning community Proposition 2: Articulate and Demonstrate a Vision of Teaching and Learning Personal Platform (EDL 705) describing personal vision and research base for ways to enhance student learning in schools Field Study (EDL 711 and 712) aimed at enhancing student learning Action research in own classroom Proposition 3: Connect Work to the Larger Context Research Paper (EDF 700) on educational policy Project designed to increase parent involvement in school improvement process Presentation to school board or professional association on need for policy change Proposition 4: Recognize and Value Diversity Cultural Bias Project (EDL 705) on cultural bias that inhibits student learning A grant funded project that enhances interactions and appreciation for diversity among children in your school district and another district Paper presented to parent community or professional organization on the importance of valuing diversity Proposition 5: Use Technology to Advance Learning Technology self-assessment and learning plan (EDT 700). Field study aimed at improving student learning through better use of technology. A web-based or other product that you have developed Proposition 6: Commit to Continuous Quality Improvement Field Study (EDL 711, 712) Action Research/Evaluation/Focus Group conducted in school or district Implementation of a process for studying student work and using it to improve teaching Proposition 7: Value and Apply Research to School Improvement Field Study (EDL 711, 712) A literature review on learning community and school improvement (EDL 705) A presentation to your school board or faculty that distills the research on a significant topic related to student learning 9

10 candidate s growth as a leader in the field and readiness to embark on the dissertation. In addition, the presentation should demonstrate appropriate use of technology and other communication tools. The remaining part of the meeting provides time for questions, clarifications, and discussion. Appendix C presents the rubric which the committee will use to assess the portfolio. The evidence and reflections submitted in support of each doctoral proposition, as well as the presentation and defense, will be judged by the committee using a three-category rubric: Distinguished, Fully Meets Standards, and Does Not Fully Achieve Standards. Distinguished will be reserved for truly outstanding work. Propositions for which there is insufficient evidence or evidence of insufficient quality will be judged Does Not Fully Achieve Standards and will require revision and/or additional documentation. The guiding standards when evaluating the artifacts and accompanying reflections submitted in support of each proposition are: 1. Is there a rational relationship between the proposition and the evidence that has been selected, and has the reflective essay clearly articulated that relationship? 2. Does the artifact or product address an important educational issue or tackle a significant educational problem? 3. Are the evidence and the rationale sound with relationship to the research literature and knowledge base about individual and organizational learning? 4. Has the candidate provided data or other evidence of impact on the world of practice? This is especially important when considering evidence chosen to document leadership in action. 5. Do the evidence and the reflective essay document growth and development in leadership to enhance learning outcomes? Has the candidate provided an appropriately critical appraisal of the work? 6. Is the quality of each product, the reflective writing about it, and the use of technology to present it commensurate with the level of responsibility to which program graduates aspire? 10

11 In addition, the rubric includes two standards for the student presentation and oral defense. One holistic standard, readiness to commence the dissertation, will also be evaluated. Assessment Exercises and Certification Tests For candidates working toward an Intermediate or Superintendent s Certificate, some aspects of their work will be assessed through especially designed assessment center exercises and the Connecticut Administrator Test administered by the Connecticut State Department of Education. Following procedures already in use in the Department of Educational Leadership, and similar to those developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, candidates completing courses required for certification are asked to react to a series of situations aimed at assessing conceptual understanding of particular issues and illustrating the candidate s problem solving, decision making, data analysis, and interpersonal communication skills. Products from these exercises include written work (similar to the more traditional comprehensive exam) and also other authentic applications (plans, outlines, verbal presentations, reports) all aimed at showing what candidates know, what they can do, and how well they can express their ideas and plans to others. A 300 clock hour internship spread over two semesters is documented through an additional portfolio that includes products demonstrating the candidate s skills in program evaluation, curriculum and program implementation, personnel evaluation and staff development, building management, and action research. Prior to receiving departmental and university recommendation for the Intermediate Administrator and Supervisor Certificate (092), candidates must pass the Connecticut Administrator Test (CAT). The Connecticut State Department of Education provides the following description of the CAT: The CAT consists of four modules. The first two modules require candidates to take the role of an instructional supervisor and are asked to review, analyze, and prepare recommendations for support in response to a teacher s unit plan, student work and brief videotape of a teaching episode. The two school instructional analysis modules include an elementary and a secondary school context. The second two modules ask applicants to take the role of an 11

12 administrator, to review Connecticut strategic school profiles (SSP) and community information, and to describe a school improvement process. Again, the two modules include an elementary and secondary school context. Testing time for the four modules is six and one half hours. (Go to for further information.) The Dissertation Candidates in the CCSU Ed.D. Program focus on the translation of theory to practice. Therefore, the faculty has designed the dissertation and the processes used to complete, evaluate, and disseminate it to meet the unique needs of students in the program. The Ed.D. Dissertation maintains many of the features of the more traditional dissertation, particularly those that demand quality, rigor and originality. If done properly, the dissertation can be not only a satisfying capstone experience for doctoral candidates, but also an opportunity for candidates to break new ground by providing a bridge between what is known from research and what is needed in practice. It is anticipated that the dissertation can also serve the educational community of Connecticut by impacting the work of schools and improving student learning. Each candidate is responsible for identifying a dissertation advisor, choosing a dissertation topic with the dissertation advisor, and completing the dissertation, as outlined in this Handbook. Key features and requirements are summarized below. Dissertation Topic. In general, candidates are encouraged to select a topic associated with the applied aspects of teaching and learning and/or school improvement. Although applied in nature, the dissertation should nonetheless apply theory to the particular problem under investigation. Candidates will be provided assistance in defining a topic in EDL 715, Dissertation Inquiry Seminar, which will be offered during the Spring Semester of the candidate s second academic year. Dissertation Advisor. The candidate works with the Program Director and core faculty to secure a dissertation advisor who will serve as the chairperson of the dissertation committee. There is no obligation for the candidate to choose his or her program advisor. The dissertation advisor must be a member of the Ed.D. Core or Extended Core Faculty approved by the Ed.D. program director and the Dean of Graduate Studies, and must have appropriate expertise and an interest in the 12

13 candidate s topic. The director is responsible for assuring that faculty load and other administrative matters do not preclude a faculty member s participation as a dissertation advisor. Dissertation Committee. The candidate in consultation with the dissertation advisor invites faculty to serve on the dissertation committee. This committee should have at least one member from the Department of Educational Leadership who is a member of the Ed.D. Core Faculty, one person from outside the Department who has membership in the Ed.D. Extended Core Faculty, and one person from outside the Core and Extended Core Faculty. The outside member may be from another academic school at CCSU or may be an appropriately credentialed practitioner in K-12 Schools. All members of the dissertation committee must have a doctorate. The dissertation committee must be approved by the advisor, the Director of the Ed.D. Program, and the Dean of Graduate Studies. Dissertation Proposal. As part of EDL 715, Dissertation Proposal Seminar, and with the help of the dissertation advisor, the candidate will complete a dissertation proposal. The proposal must clearly define the problem to be studied, review the literature and other work on the problem, and describe the methods to be used to investigate the problem. Data collection instruments, materials, and other exhibits that clarify the methods should be appended. Defense and Approval of the Dissertation Proposal. When the candidate and the dissertation advisor agree that the proposal is ready, the dissertation will be distributed to committee members and the candidate (with the assistance of the advisor) will schedule a committee meeting for the purpose of defending the proposal. At that meeting, the candidate will present the proposal, respond to issues that are raised, and hear from individual committee members about changes that are expected before they will sign their approval. The proposal must also be approved by the Ed.D. Director and the Human Studies Committee (which serves as CCSU s institutional review board) prior to the candidate s commencing the study. (For further information about the HSC, consult The approved proposal (including a letter documenting HSC approval) is submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies by the program director. 13

14 Dissertation Seminar. EDL 7l5 has been designed specifically to assist students in developing and obtaining approval for the dissertation proposal. This seminar will be held during the Spring Semester and will meet on a schedule mutually agreed upon by the professor and candidates in the seminar. It is anticipated that some aspect of this seminar will be conducted using web-based instruction. Collaboration. Candidates may, with approval, work collaboratively with others who are interested in the same problem. If this happens, the study must be one that has logical sub-problems so that each candidate identifies and completes his/her own individual contribution to the overall problem for the dissertation. Policies and procedures for collaborative dissertations will follow the guidelines of the Council of Graduate Schools (Khalil, 1991). Options for the Form of the Dissertation. The Ed.D. faculty remains flexible about the exact form the finished dissertation should take. Except in rare circumstances the dissertation should be a monograph or a series of articles that can be shared with educational practitioner audiences. The American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual (5 th Edition) is the style of choice for completed dissertations. A student may petition the dissertation committee and the Dean of Graduate Studies for an exception if a different style would be more appropriate. Defense of the Dissertation. In completing the dissertation manuscript, it is essential for the candidate to consult closely with the dissertation advisor about when the dissertation will be ready for a formal defense before the dissertation committee and others (for example, the Dean of Graduate Studies may designate a representative, or the Program Director and other faculty may attend). If approved by the dissertation advisor, other guests suggested by the candidate may be invited to observe. During the defense, the candidate will provide an oral presentation about the dissertation (including use of technology as appropriate). However, the heart of the defense is questioning and discussion, including the opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate a deep mastery of the research literature, methods (including alternatives to the chosen methodologies), findings and implications for practice. Dissemination of the Dissertation. At the completion of the dissertation, candidates present the results of their study to interested educators and citizens from 14

15 their work setting or community. This is coordinated in EDL 719 during the last summer of the program. The completed dissertation is also submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies for approval and for the purpose of having it digitized and archived in the library. Dissertation Responsibilities Successful dissertations require that several parties carry out their responsibilities in effective ways: The Candidate: Selects a dissertation advisor, with guidance from the program director and others. Invites committee members with the guidance of the dissertation chair. Completes a proposal and arranges for committee review. Meets all required deadlines for submission. Completes the dissertation following required guidelines and APA style (5 th Edition). Arranges for committee review of the dissertation. Arranges for formal presentation during EDL 718. The Dissertation Advisor/Committee Chair: Establishes willingness and availability to work with the candidate. Helps the candidate define an appropriate topic that can be accomplished within the time and resources available. Guides the candidate in acquiring a committee appropriate for the candidate s dissertation topic. Clarifies with the candidate the role of the advisor and the committee. Guides the candidate in writing the dissertation proposal including helping choose appropriate methodologies. Approves the proposal for presentation to the dissertation committee. 15

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